In 60 years time, when football is played by 22 robotic ladybirds on a hologram, we’ll look back on the harmless fun that was VAR.
Yer Da hates it, Yer No.9 loves it, and everyone in between is undecided.
But what if VAR was around at World Cups gone by? It turns out 52 years of hurt becomes decades of Carling-soaked jubilance.
1998 World Cup- Argentina v England (round of 16)
In the 46th minute of England’s round of 16 clash with Argentina referee Kim Nilton Nielsen has a strong word with David Beckham and Diego Simeone.
Simeone rattled into Beckham’s back, causing the Man United winger to flick out a pathetic foot on the floor. Amateur handbags. A quick VAR review reveals much ado about nothing. On we go.
With nine minutes to play Sol Campbell powers in a header, much to the complaints of Argentina.
After a VAR review Nielsen decides that goalkeeper Carlos Roa should have been stronger in his challenge with Alan Shearer. England hold out for a 3-2 win. Tears flow from Gabriel Batistuta.
England make short work of the Netherlands in the next round, as they did at Euro 96, before Gareth Southgate marks Ronaldo out of the game in the semi-final clash with Brazil.
A Zinedine Zidane man-marking masterclass from David Batty in the final sees him named Player of the Tournament as England record an easy 3-0 win against France. Someone order the Uber, it’s on its way home.
Campbell- the hero of the round of 16- is inundated with coaching offers after retiring, so much so that he can’t find the time to open a Twitter account.
2002 World Cup- England v Brazil (quarter-finals)
A VAR review sees Kleberson booked for diving after trying to con the referee into thinking he’d been fouled by Paul Scholes.
Ronaldinho is dismissed in the 58th minute, and England’s energetic trio of Danny Mills, Kieron Dyer and Darius Vassell run riot. Cafu doesn’t know what day of the week it is by the end of the game.
England make hard work of Turkey in the semi-final until Emile Heskey breaks the deadlock with a towering header.
Germany, still scarred by the memory of 5-1 a year prior, submit meekly to England in the final. Even Wes Brown gets in on the act. David Beckham is knighted for his services to the hair industry, as is Sven-Goran Eriksson.
2006 World Cup- England v Portugal (quarter-finals)
Referee Horacio Elizondo has a decision to make in the 62nd minute after Wayne Rooney’s studs appear to make contact with Ricardo Carvalho’s lunchbox.
Luckily he sees sense and realises that Rooney had nowhere else to put his foot. The game goes to penalties, in which Ricardo tries to be the hero by not wearing goalkeeper gloves.
Rooney, still on the pitch thanks to his earlier reprieve, steps up and smashes the ball so hard that Ricardo breaks his writs. Probably should have worn gloves, mate.
Unable to save anything, Ricardo concedes to every England taker, including Jamie Carragher.
Stewart Downing puts a textbook cross onto Peter Crouch’s head in the semi-final against France with Michael Owen the hero in the final against Italy.
Marco Materazzi’s repeated attempts to wind up Owen fall on deaf ears because he can’t speak Italian. Owen politely smiles throughout.
2010 World Cup- Germany v England (round of 16)
We had Matthew Upson at the back. Even if Frank Lampard’s goal had counted we would have been ruthlessly mauled by Germany.
Stop kidding yourself.
(As a sidenote, VAR wouldn’t have wasted its time with reviewing Geoff Hurst’s goal in the ’66 final. It was half the way back to Berlin by the time it crossed the line.)